When it comes to jewelry, most would agree anything containing diamonds and other precious gemstones are considered not just an accessory, but an investment. As such, keeping up with routine care and maintenance can be key to extending the longevity of your pieces, as well as helping them retain their natural luster and brilliance for decades to come.
Since not all gems are created equal, however, keeping them clean and cared for isn’t a matter of simply washing them with dish soap and calling it a day. In fact, many different gems can require a much different maintenance approach than others, so it’s important to understand the best care routine for each piece in your collection.
“Most (gems) will respond well to warm water, mild detergent, and a soft brush at home. However, some gems do have sensitivities,” explains the International Gem Society (IGS).
Since some gems can be sensitive to certain cleaners, chemicals, and even water temperature, it’s important to research the best way to clean your particular piece before subjecting it to something that may harm it. For example, pearls and turquoise can be damaged or discolored if not properly dried off after a cleaning (including inside drill holes) and as such, it is highly recommended that they not be submerged in any form of liquid. Other gemstone sensitivities include heat sensitive citrine and coral pieces (trending this season, so be mindful of this during purchases) which require temperate cleaning and storage.
Retail Cleaner Dangers
For the most part, many gemstones can be submerged in a standard retail-purchased jewelry cleaner. Diamonds are particularly responsive to this type of cleaner (but can also be cleaned with mild soap and water), as well as gemstones such as rubies, sapphires, and Jade.
By the same token, there are several gemstones which should never be cleaned using mechanical cleaning solutions. Emeralds, in particular, are often polished using an oil treatment after cutting in order to maximize their color and shine. Retail cleaners can sometimes interact with these oils, causing the gemstones to actually break down and become damaged during cleaning. Other gemstones to avoid using retail cleaners include opals, peridot, and turquoise – these can all be damaged or discolored by the chemicals in common cleaners.
In most cases, your jewelry is best cleaned at home with a simple process of warm water, mild soap, and a thorough wipe down with a clean, dry cloth. This process works for the majority of gemstone pieces and will keep your investments looking brilliant and fiery for years to come. If you find yourself with an item with sensitivities, however, rest assured there are still ways you can clean them at home.
Pearls, for example, can be cleaned by simply rubbing them with a soft, clean, damp cloth to remove any surface grime. The same can be done for other sensitive gemstones such as coral, citrine, and turquoise.
When in doubt, however, it’s always best to consult the professionals. Most jewelry retailers offer free or discounted cleaning for all jewelry pieces. If you’re unsure of how to care for your particular piece, speak with your local jeweler to learn how best to maintain your investment.